New Zealand said on Wednesday April 14th that it would be phasing out over two years the export of livestock by sea. It stated that animal welfare concerns had prompted the decision.
Although the ban was welcomed by animal welfare groups, the animal farming industry body said that the announcement had caught it by surprise. It added that it was unaware of any breaches of standards.
Live exports by sea represent a mere 0.2% of New Zealand’s primary sector exports revenue since 2015, averaging just NZ$60m (US$42m) a year from 2015 to 2019. New Zealand exported 113,285 live cattle by sea last year.
Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said that “we have not been able to guarantee the safety of these animals at sea and that’s an unacceptable risk for New Zealand”. He added that , adding key trading partners, which would have included Australia and China, had been informed of the decision.
“I recognise the importance of our trade relationships with our international partners and we’re committed to working with them as we transition away from the shipment of livestock,” he said.
Simone Clarke, executive director of World Animal Protection New Zealand, said the decision was a “significant moment in our history for animals, one which other governments around the world must now follow.”
However, Wayne Langford, a spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand, said the industry body “has no information about any breaches of the high standards relating to livestock exports.”